AFFORDABLE housing pioneers in Lyme Regis were among those to throw open their doors for a recent celebration of groundbreaking Community Land Trust projects.
More than 50 people attended the event, which included visits to trailblazing projects in Lyme Regis, Symene and Marshwood.
West Dorset is leading the way nationally with 10 active Community Land Trusts (CLTs). This is among the highest number in any council district in the country.
CLTs are being progressed by communities with the support of councils to provide much-needed low-cost housing for local people.
The council’s new Opening Doors campaign – launched with North Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council – is encouraging more communities to start CLTs and take advantage of £2million of funding to support projects across their areas.
Delegates at the event, including councillors, community groups and CLT members, heard presentations at Bridport Leisure Centre before touring sites.
Paul Derrien, housing enabling team leader for North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, said: “CLTs are a valuable way of helping to meet significant local housing need.
“We have an impressive number already but we want to see more projects coming forward.
“The networking day went extremely well with the opportunity for people to share knowledge, compare experiences and exchange ideas.”
There have been 62 affordable homes developed by CLTs in West Dorset, including at the new Germans Field site off Timber Hill in Lyme Regis, which is nearing completion. This will include 15 news homes for rent, developed in partnership with Yarlington Housing Group and CG Fry & Son.
Councillor Tim Yarker, housing briefholder for West Dorset District Council, said: “There are other communities who could benefit from this kind of development. We want to get the word out that it can be done, it’s not impossible.”
The CLT event, the first of its kind, also included a presentation by Steve Watson of the Wessex CLT Project, which has helped many communities develop their schemes.
He said: “West Dorset is possibly further ahead than most districts in the country and the council’s support has been a big factor. It is really positive and demonstrates just what can be done.”
CLTs are predominately for housing but can also include other community assets. For example, Toller Porcorum has a post office as part of its scheme.
There are CLTs in Symene, Toller Porcorum, Marshwood, Buckland Newton, with others active in Powerstock, Bridport, Dorchester, Bishop’s Caundle, Broadwindsor, Lyme and Upper Frome Valley.
Talks are ongoing for others in Weymouth and Portland and opportunities are being explored in North Dorset.
Opening Doors aims to encourage greater construction of a mix of quality homes of all tenures with a target of 20,000 properties by 2033.